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Blog posts of '2017' 'September'

Winter Ventilation for Homestead Livestock Buildings

Most small-scale producers utilize natural ventilation during warm weather. As the weather cools, regulating the environment inside livestock and poultry buildings becomes more difficult with manually operated vent doors. Adding small ventilation fan(s) simplifies the task of maintaining a healthy environment for the animals.  

The first step is to determine the minimum and mild winter rates for the amount of the animals housed. Table 1 displays a chart with recommended ventilation rates taken from an older university manual. Table-1Minimum rates are the recommended ventilation in cfm (cubic feet per minute) needed to control moisture and prevent condensation from forming on interior surfaces. The additional mild winter airflow stops rising temperatures inside the building as the outside temperature increases.  

For our example, we'll use a 24' x 30' farrowing house with ten crates.  

10 sows/litters x 20 cfm = 200 cfm   minimum rate
10 sows/litters x 80 cfm = 800 cfm   mild winter rate  

As a fan operates, it creates a static pressure difference between the inside and outside of the building measured in water column inches. Pick an exhausted fan for this application according to its stated cfm deliveries at .05" static pressure. (See Farmstead Fans)

Table-2From the list of fans shown in Table 2, the 12" fan is rated at 880 cfms.   This cfm rating matches up closely with the mild winter rate in our example.   We have two options that will enable us to reduce the cfm delivery down to the minimum rate of 200 cfm.  

We can use an inexpensive variable speed controller to slow the speed of the fan. (see #NE105F) But be aware that a reduction in fan speed does not directly mean the same reduction in cfms. In other words, reducing the fan speed by 50% does not reduce air delivery by 50%.   Turning a fan down too slow can also cause the motor to overheat.  

A more accurate method of reducing the amount of air exhausted is using a cycle timer. (see HST001) In the example above we would set the on cycle for one minute and off cycle for four minutes.  

20 cfm x 10 sows = 200 cfm
200 cfm/ 880 fan cfm = 0.227 x 300 sec (Total Cycle Time) = 68 sec ON or 1 minute  

The additional advantage of using a timer is it allows more flexibility for changing animal density. For instance, if our example farrowing barn was half full we could reduce the on cycle to one minute. If we chose to wean the pigs in the crates and leave them there until they weigh 40 lbs., we would be able to increase the on time to two minutes.  

120 pigs x 3 cfm = 360 cfms
360 cfm / 880 cfm = 0.409 x 300 sec (Total Timer Cycle ) = 123 sec ON or 2 minutes    

Either the speed control or timer can be wired in parallel with a single stage thermostat to override the low setting. As the temperature rises inside the building, the thermostat takes over and runs the fan at full speed. If the inside temperature goes down with the fan running on high the thermostat drops out, and timer takes over, and the building returns to minimum ventilation.  

Operating the minimum ventilation during cold weather will mean adding supplemental heat to maintain a comfortable temperature for the animals. Turning the fan down to prevent the heater from running will create damp, smelly air inside the barn.   Table 3 lists the likely supplemental heat requirements per animal. These rates assume adequate insulation in the walls and ceiling and minimum air leaks.


Using our example barn again  

20 sows/litters x 3000 Btu = 60,000 Btu heater
120 nursery pigs x 350 = 42,000 Btu heater.  

Also, you will need to provide air intakes matched to the total ventilation capacity of the fans. A simple gravity activated sidewall inlet (see #HSI200) is the best choice for most situations. Inexpensive and easy to install, this simple plastic inlet automatically opens allowing airflow when the fan(s) operate. When the timer shuts the fan off, the plastic louver closes.  

Inlets installed in an outside wall require a weather hood to protect against strong winds forcing the louver open.   See Weather Hood diagram below. Inlets are typically located opposite the fan(s) to pull air across the building.  


Each inlet is rated at 430 cfm. To determine the number of inlets needed divide the total cfm by 430. Using our example  

880 cfm/ 430 = 2.04 or 2 inlets needed.  

We provided this short article as a guide to adding wintertime ventilation to an existing building. Your individual building will vary by location, the condition of the structure and other factors. For a detailed calculation of the ventilation equipment needed for particular building, please contact us at  

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Swine tagging…why and how!


Animal identification is step one to providing the production data needed to manage a swine operation and make the decisions required for herd improvement.  


Producers have long known that identifying genetics, measuring performance, tracking animal inventory or tracking treatments are important and valuable reasons to use livestock identification. Simply put, you can’t do these things without the use of ID devices. Whether you are using traditional tags or possibly electronic identification tags (EID) or a combination of both, what you do on your operation is made easier by the use of an ID product.  

Inventory, piglets per litter, breeding information, performance data, treatments and withdrawal records are all tied to an animal ID. From simple to complex, you design the process that best works for your operation. Many producers have decided to use electronic ear tags to help increase the accuracy of their record-keeping and reduce the labor needed to perform routine tasks that require identifying individual animals. The use of EID in swine continues to grow and become the norm in group sow housing as electronic sow feeders continue to become more prominent in our market.  So a single tag can be used for individual sow feed management in addition to the information commonly managed with an ID tag.


Pick the product. From piglet tags to the center post, breeding herd tags, there are different products for an animal’s age. “Mating the proper tag with the production phase/age of the pig is important to reach your identification goals, ease of application and retention,” according to Steve Bretey, Swine Business Manager for Allflex USA/ Destron Fearing. “Plan ahead, and place your order two or three weeks before needing them.”  

Always use the same brand of applicator and tags. There are slight differences between tags, and it is important to use the proper applicator.  (Following package directions is also a big help in getting the correct applicator with the tag.)  

Use disinfectant on the stem of the male tag. Just dip the stem in the disinfectant, not the whole tag. This action will help lubricate the tag and improve the cleanliness of the application process.  

Different numbering systems can be used on visual ear tags, but the best is simple to use and understand. Always make the management number the biggest number on the tag, knowing it’s the most important. You can also add sire codes, genetic lines, etc. to the tag with other smaller numbers. Last but not least consider color and important option. Colors can represent genetic lines, age, location, etc. to help more quickly identify and manage your animals.  

DF_SP_Pink_Webres Official Tags-Swine premises tags continue to be one of the most successful industry driven programs in the US. Cull Sows and Boars are required to be tagged with an official tag before entering harvest channels. These can be ordered in a variety of colors and are an integral part of food safety and traceability for our swine industry. They are a perfect example of a custom tag that combines color, large ID numbers and other relevant information on the tag.


When traveling with show pigs, remember to have them tagged with an official 840 tag. This ID represents that the animal was born in the US and can move throughout the country and attend livestock shows.

For more information Tags  

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And now you need to clean the water


The second part of our series on treating the drinking water in finishing houses.
Jesse McCoy, CWS, Business Unit Specialist, Water Treatment, Neogen Corp.  

Following proper terminal line disinfection, the next step in a water program for the benefit of your animals is disinfection of the drinking water. Animals get water in three ways. The first is respiration. The amount of water ingested this way, however, is negligible, especially when you are talking water that’s actually usable by the animal nutritionally. The second way the animal gets water is through the feed. Again, this is negligible. The main way the animal gets essentially all of the water it uses for existence comes through the water line in the barn.  

Making sure that water works for the animal, instead of hindering it, will make sure the animal thrives, rather than just survives. One part of this process is disinfection of the water to make sure the water isn’t adding pathogens into the animal with every drink. Water sources are often contaminated, especially those that are surface water or have been in use for more than a couple years. Over time water sources are often disturbed by geological forces, continued tapping by other users, and through routine maintenance on the well system. Animal drinkers are also open, meaning air or debris from the environment can mix with the water prior to consumption by the animal. This leads to contamination after the point of disinfection, so steps should be taken to ensure any chemical used to reduce pathogens in the water is effective past the point of injection and reaches the mouth of the animal.  


There are many, many options for water disinfection. One that has shown great results in disinfection of the novel pathogens we deal with in the animal production is chlorine dioxide. Chlorine dioxide is similar to bleach in that it is a chlorinated compound, but is 2.6 times the strength when it comes to oxidizing the pathogens. Also, it has multiple modes of action instead of just oxidation. This means it kills pathogens that show resistance to chlorine bleach, and these resistant pathogens are becoming more and more common in animal production. Chlorine dioxide typically comes in a container with “stabilized chlorine dioxide” on the label and converts to chlorine dioxide when applied in the water. The amount of conversion is dependent on how it is “activated” with release agents (like acids, hypochlorite, electricity, or other catalysts). Chlorine dioxide also has a taste and odor control claim on its label, so it can be used in situations where increased consumption by the animals is a goal for the producer.

Data shows chlorine dioxide treatment of drinking water can significantly improve production values. Application of the stabilized chlorine dioxide in this trial improved production at the research site as follows:

6-week wean-nursery trial – Pathogen reduction with stabilized chlorine dioxide after terminal line disinfection with peracetic acid (MaxKlor, Neogen Corp. and Peraside, Neogen Corp.)


Terminal line disinfection in this research trial was achieved with a 3% solution of peracetic disinfectant administered into the lines with a sump pump upon depopulation. The stabilized chlorine dioxide was run at a rate of 5ppm for consumption through the nursery phase. The solution was created and maintained by a metering pump.


An electric metering pump runs off a water meter or pressure switch to apply the correct amount of solution to the injected into each gallon of water in the lines. The producer places the tube directly into the disinfectant and is not exposed to the product. The producer runs the pump and makes adjustments based on a simple test strip test taken from an actual drinker – because it’s about what the animal is drinking, not what is in the original water source.

With a little effort, since stock solutions are not needed and only a jug needs to be replaced, these production gains can be realized, and the animals can move further towards their genetic potential.    

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